Friday, June 27, 2014

The Bocaue Peak Trek, Cebu City

It was Saturday before payday and you know what that means "pineapple tingbits" week.

It's the time of the month when McBurger in the next block looks fancy and when paired with fries becomes a gourmet.  It's the time of the month when "kuko-crunch" becomes the staple and drool over a Magnum ice cream stick on a humid afternoon as it is a luxury.

A weekend when clubbing is not an option.  Although it has been months that I have not gone out and my Saturday night friends have missed me, I know and I miss them and I owe them big time for missing their birthday parties. I don't know, perhaps I have grown out of it. When the music gets too loud its deafening and the dancing green lights are just too playful it dizzies me. In short, I'm old.

A movie date would have been great.  If only someone would treat me to a movie but that as well was out of the list.

So that means a house arrest for two days within the four corners of my rustic-yellow-painted room.  A time for some artsy fartsy. I mean loom bands have become popular. I saw myself mixing and matching colors and create those fancy rubber bracelets.  What a FUN weekend would that be, NOT!

I received an SMS from a friend inviting me for a trek.  With limited resources, I initially said no.  I had some household chores was my lie.  I asked her what time and where would we meet just in case as I'm so fickle minded.  And, yes, I changed my mind.

I packed what's for breakfast and grabbed a big water bottle container.  In my back pack were three t-shirt, a sarong (in case it gets too hot) and anti-septic alcohol for insect bites.  I put on my sunnies and rode a jeepney off to Guadalupe Church where the meeting place was.  That was two jeepney ride from my place for 8 pesos each.

I greeted my friend and said hello to the new faces.  "You are one fickle minded" she commented.  "I know" was my reply and a smirk on my face.  "Look at that, who's that cutie" and all I got from her was a rolling eyes.

From the church a habal-habal took us to the starting point for 15 pesos each. So far I spent, 31 pesos. And it was time for a group picture. Good morning!

  
We prayed for a good weather and we were blessed as the morning sun embraced us warmly.


It was 7AM.  It was a whole day trek and we were expected to be back in the city by 4PM.


The walk started with a descend.  The soil was a bit moist as it rained the day before.  I thought, wrong shoes again.


I looked up and saw those towers.  That's where we will have our lunch. Long route, eh!? It was.


Meanwhile, we took our first break. Spared, a fruit fell and missed me by an inch that would have been my first unwanted incident.  Without escape, among the insects, what I hated the most are ants. I felt a sting on my left foot. Stomping.  The last time an ant bit me, I ended in the hospital for allergic reaction, I had difficulty breathing and passed out.  I forgot to bring my pill.  I thought, wrong outfit.  I should have worn socks.

So we continued.  We started our ascend.  The greens, they were breath taking.  I thought I needed this.  I thought this was way more fun than my rustic-yellow-painted wall.  


And the view of the city from afar was equally amazing.  Even when the sun was up, the breeze was still cool.  However, as our walk continued it was all ascend. It got steeper. I was catching my breath. I thought it was just like a walk in the park. Without enough sleep, I struggled. My breathing was deeper, everyone could hear it. Then I asked for five minutes.



 I managed to smile.  But to my sight the greens were turning blinding white.  As I continued my right leg cramped for the first time in all my trekking life.  A newly met friend offered her walking stick.  That was so nice of her to think we just met.  I appreciated it.  My five minutes became frequent and we were not half way yet.  But our guide was patient enough as well as the rest of the team.


Finally, second break at Manuel's.  This spot has become famous to all climbers.  Thirty, I quenched myself with freshly picked buko juice.


For 25 pesos, I regained my strength. It was 10:30AM.


The ascend continued for another 2 hours.  I wash my face with the cold water in every spring along the way just to keep my cool as my skin was burning.  I really struggled.  It was the most difficult walk.  My left knee gave in as well.  My friend talked to me out about anything just to continue walking.  I was about to give up. I managed to laugh trying to hide the pain or forget about it.


A quick photo while resting. These people rock.  And I didn't want to be that helpless prima donna so I forced myself to hear the voice within that "I can do this".


And I did.  We reached the towers. We had lunch. We rested for at least 30 minutes. The walk after the RCPI towers were easier, a walk in the park.  By the way, we were heading to Bocaue Peak and exit to baranggay Bonbon. The grass blades along the trail became sharper, I started to feel them in my legs. I thought I should have worn pants.


I was feeling better.  I enjoyed the scenery.  Wild flowers, wild fruits and a brown eagle soaring freely. That was so beautiful. That mighty eagle with all wings spread calmly in the air.  What a sight. Then we saw this, the peak. From no where, we swayed the curtains of vines and leaves of the forest, then this amazing view.


We made it.


I made it.

Pain is temporary as my friend said.  While at the peak I contemplated "I really thought I couldn't make it. It was a very difficult trail. I pushed. I'm glad I had a very good support system. I made it. And that's the way it should be in real life... a good support system."


We started our descend.


I thought it was going to be light. But it was equally difficult.  I fell on my butt four times.  Wrong shoes, too steep, too slippery.  And I could go on with all my whines. But I have learned to see things at a different perspective. And I gained friends.


“Life is a journey, not a destination.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson


---

Thank you Joice for the invitation.
Thank you sir Jason for guiding us and for taking care of us.
Thank you miss Rancy for the walking stick

Photo credits to sir Luigi and Santonin for the pics.  I grabbed them from your wall without permission.

Nice meeting you all, Jan, Carmel, Brent, Kristine and Victor

Additional expenses:
Iced cold mountain dew -12 pesos
Iced cold bottled water - 15 pesos
Chips - 5 pesos
habal-habal going back to the city - 40 pesos
2 jeepney rides - 16 pesos

total: 119 pesos :)
 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The JPark Island Resort & Waterpark: Part 4 - Team Building Activities

It's not always we get freebies to experience a luxurious day in a 5 star resort.  Lucky me, I received an invitation from JPark Island Resort and Waterpark (formerly known as Imperial Palace).  Working hard at night, I deserve this break.

"Thank you for calling and have a great day" was my last spiel.  Then I logged off, put on my sunnies,  Without sleep, I braved the blinding sun.

JPark Island Resort and Waterpark is located in Brgy Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.  Approximately a-30-minute drive from Cebu City.

Greeted with warm welcome a breakfast buffet waited for us at the Abalone.  After the short conference, food tasting for their new menu at Olive and breaks in between we were served sumptuous Chinese lunch at Ching Hai Restaurant.

Been awake for almost 24 hours, my phone battery had died but my energy level was as high as their world famous water slide.


And yes I dared. Like a pig being slaughtered, I found myself screaming inside the green tube. Who wouldn't it was dark inside and am scared of closed areas. I can't even breathe inside an elevator. The white was an open slide, it was an easy ride and ideal for kids. If you want to know how a poop feels being flushed on a toilet bowl, try the red.  I didn't have the time to react. After the life guard pushed me, a split second I was already at the pool gasping for air.  I had fun with people I just met. They were cool too. Here's the rest of the team.

     
(This photo belongs to Emjae of OMG Moments at http://ohwemjae.wordpress.com/)

JPark Island Resort and Waterpark is also ideal for team building.


(This photo belongs to Herbert Kikoy at http://www.herbertkikoyphotography.com/)


(This photo belongs to Herbert Kikoy at http://www.herbertkikoyphotography.com/)

I belonged to the opposite side and our team won 4-0.  I'm a natural team player. Naah, I learned to let go of my hesitations.  Just to prove myself I'm not "maarte" as people would say I am. 


Those activities consumed what's left with my energy.  So it was time to relax and enjoy the pool.  The atmosphere was humid and the cold water solved it.


Before we left, they served us snacks, Ham and Cheese sandwich with french fries and a glass of cold four season juice. Grand! wast it?!  I could get used to with this treatment.  Thanks JPark Island Resort and Waterpark for this memorable experience.


Monday, June 16, 2014

The JPark Island Resort & Waterpark: Part 3 - Lunch At Ching Hai

"Hi my name is Ron. Visit my page at thebrokenhalo13@blogspot.com. I'm a newbie in blogging. It started as a hobby. Well, it is still.  I used to write a paper journal to express my gratitude.  Counting my blessings and recalling my adventures somehow helped me personally when things are low.  It uplifts me..."

And I could move on but I did't want to bore them with my own drama so I stick to the first sentence as my introduction. Wow these people rule the online world here in Cebu. Their words as sharp as blades could conquer a whole community.

And what better way to spread the good news from JPark Island Resort and Waterpark to the rest of the cyberspace?

So we've learned:

1. Formerly known as the Imperial Palace, as a brave decision they let go of the franchise in order to increase marketability.  Being with the franchise limit themselves to opening different markets.  They said that the local market has increased and other Asian-Mediterranean market sounded promising.

2. Part of the the decision is flexibility as they planned to expand to different location within the country.  A casino is soon to rise here in Mactan.  In addition to their waterparks, they plan to install go-carts lanes.

3. They will bring back the membership model.  It's currently on hold for better offers.  A good news to my sister.

After the short conference and food tasting, I went to check the itinerary.  I saw lunch scheduled after an hour.  With no sleep and already full, nope I wasn't not complaining, I went to change to a more comfortable clothes as the weather was too humid.  Their toilet signage were too cute to be missed. haha

  
It was free time for us.  We took a walk to free our stomach as lunch would be ready in an hour. I told my friend that I should change blog name to "The Adventure of a Baboy".  She suggested "Chronicles of a Pig". Again I wasn't complaining.

Under the heat of the sun I took out my point-and-shoot camera.  It's time for click click and more click.


Island Pool.  3.5 to 5 feet deep.  Open from 7AM to 9PM. I was ready to take a plunge.


Cabane.  The art of doing nothing. Or maybe read a good book. I haven't really finished reading The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.


Captain Hook's Pool. 1.6 feet deep. Open from 9AM to 6PM.  It felt great to be a kid again.


Did I say point and shoot? no panoramic feature included too bad. haha Very well maintained white sand coast.


sweet life, eh!?  When life gives you a humid temperature, do not complain as it unveil another beauty, you'll appreciate better the sea breeze.

After a short walk we were called for lunch at their Chinese Restaurant called Ching Hai (means pure ocean)

This photo belongs to Emjae of OMG Moments at http://ohwemjae.wordpress.com/

I love Chinese food.  It's a happy food. A comfort food.  A fine dim sum takes the blues away.


This photo belongs to Emjae of OMG Moments at http://ohwemjae.wordpress.com/

Treated like VIPs in this intimate corner of the restaurant, I gained friends.  See it was a good food, we were laughing the whole time.  I'm mostly silent with new people but with them I had the biggest ha ha!  Then everyone stared at us, then a moment of silence broke the chaos, then found our way laughing again.  Here's what we've got:

Steamed:

Siomai with crab rice

Shrimp Dumplings
Meat buns
 Deep Fried:

Bean Curd Roll with Prawns

Taro Puffs

Shrimp Shui Jiao
And more:

Yang Chaw Fried Rice

Sweet and Sour Pork

braised noodles with assorted seafood and vegetables 
This photo belongs to Emjae of OMG Moments at http://ohwemjae.wordpress.com/

Dessert:

Mango Sago

This photo belongs to Mustachio of Mustacioventures at http://mustachioventures.blogspot.com/


There's only one word to describe them all, D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S.  It was my favorite part of the day.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The JPark Island Resort & Waterpark: Part 2 - Food Tasting At Olive

If there's one job in this world that I want, it's the job of Mr Anton Ego, France top restaurant critic.

photo from google
Yup, he's Remy's critic from the computer-animated-comedy-film Ratatouille.  He's every top chef's nightmare and I quote "I'd like your heart roasted on a spit." I know I can't be him because:

1.  The only french food word that I can read and pronounce correctly is a croissant.

2.  I can't tell the difference between medium and medium rare.

3.  Was it oregano, thyme or basil.

4.  I only know Mozzarella, Brie, Cheddar, Parmesan and Cream Cheese.

5. When the only adjectives I know are only delicious, yummy and excellent.

And there are more reasons, let's limit them to five. 

Anyhow, so luckily I got invited to JPark Island Resort and Waterpark (formerly known as The Imperial Palace).  They let go of the Imperial franchise as a strategy to widen their market.  They opened a new restaurant to cater Asian-Mediterranean tongue called OLIVE and we were the first to taste them after their marketing and advertising head talked about the changes and their plans, that was 20 minutes after my full breakfast. geee!




Here are the creations of chef Russell Abarquez.


Similar to Thai's Pomelo and Shrimp Salad, as a twist, he used lemon instead of lime.  It tasted like our local kinilaw, well, it should be, it's a salad. See I couldn't imagine if a lime was used if it will make a difference or will it taste different.  All I know is that I like pomelo and shrimp, what more if these were combined.  Easy on the parsley though the bitterness from the pomelo was enough for me.



Tokwa't Baboy (Tofu and Pork).  I'm hard to please when it comes to tofu, not my favorite food anywhere. I like tofu on a clay pot with thick sauce so I wont taste the blandness of it. If only the pork was a bit tender but then again, I don't know about medium and medium rare.  I believe that, to each his own (tongue).     


Seafood Ragout in coconut shell.  Looks pretty and overall  the taste was good.  Although, it was too Filipino-ish than Asian.  Better if its coconut creamier and best with curry I think. Similar to what I tried in Cambodia, called Amok.


Vietnamese Beef Steak with Tamarind Sauce and Pineapple Salsa.  The sauce was more salty that sour.  I did not even realize it was tamarind sauce until he told us.  Sorry, but my tongue was looking for that same dish with tamarind sauce I tasted in Vietnam. In any dish, I hate cooked pineapple, it has a weird bite.

  
Moussaka. This is my second favorite.  Two thumbs up.  A layer of eggplant (I think there was a tomato), and meat. (yes like a lasagna). The b├ęchamel sauce was thick and well seasoned. Cheese and olives with balsamic vinegar, yes, yes, yes and yes.  


 Truffle Pappardelle - Freshly made flat pasta + olives + scallops = a beautiful dish that taste heavenly.  It was well seasoned. Pasta had a flavor and scallops were not overcooked. The olive oil just had the right kick. I'll get this again.



Between the two desserts, while my friend likes the chocolate cake, I like the cheese cake.  Creamy and enough sweetness.  Not the kind of sweetness that could hurt your throat.



             








But then again, I'm not Mr Anton Ego.








"...probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it" - Anton Ego, Ratatouille